Comprehensive Mandates for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Reduce Opioid Prescriptions and Hospital Use

States that require prescribers and dispensers to register with and use prescription drug monitoring programs saw notably fewer opioid prescriptions and reduced opioid-related hospital use compared to states with weak drug monitoring program mandates, according to a new study from investigators at Weill Cornell Medicine. The approximate annual reduction of about 12,000 inpatient stays and 39,000 emergency department visits could save an estimated $155 million a year in Medicaid spending.

Drug monitoring programs are statewide databases that collect and monitor prescribing and dispensing information of controlled prescription drugs to identify possible misuse by patients. All states and the District of Columbia, except Missouri, have implemented prescription drug monitoring plans to slow the opioid epidemic.

However, how these programs have been implemented has varied. Some states have comprehensive mandates that require all providers, regardless of practice setting, to register and use the program on initial prescribing and at least every 12 months after that for continuing prescriptions. Others have noncomprehensive mandates that only require registration, or have a weak use requirement, or both.

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